Amoeblog

Dirty Roots: Southern Hip-Hop Part I -- The 12" Era (1979-1983)

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 16, 2015 07:21pm | Post a Comment

As far as my ears can tell, pretty near every rapper from Inglewood to Plumstead nowadays owes more than a little something to the rise of the Dirty South sound that pretty much took over hip-hop in the late 1990s. As anyone with more than a passing familiarity with the genre knows, however, southern hip-hop was for many years primarily a regional concern. In the 1970s the hip-hop scene was firmly centered in the Northeast. In the early 1980s it made its way to the West Coast but as far as mainstream audiences were concerned, skipped the third and fourth coasts. In the 1990s, many casual fans and scholars alike will tell you, there was a war between the East and West Coasts during some Southern upstarts crashed the party and, despite the efforts of the backpack Taliban, restored a sense of fun to a genre which had increasingly grown joyless and conservative. 

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Malcolm X Home Firebombed On This Day 50 Years Ago

Posted by Billyjam, February 14, 2015 07:21pm | Post a Comment

In the early morning hours of this date fifty years ago -  February 14, 1965 -  Malcolm X's New York home was firebombed with him, his pregnant wife, and four young daughters in the home at the time. The African American civil rights leader and his family managed to get out of the building safely. And later that same day he would travel to Detroit to make a speech in which he would address the house bombing "by the black Muslim movement upon the orders of Elijah Muhammad" according to Malcolm X (see video of speech below). However exactly a week later, after his return to New York, on February 21st, 1965 he would be assassinated at the age of 40.

  

Black Hillbilly - or - What you really know about the Upper South?

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 9, 2015 09:08am | Post a Comment
The first non-Native American settlers of Appalachia and later, the Ozarks, were of primarily of three ethnicities: Scots-Irish, English, and German. These hard-working farmers and craftsmen created a distinct culture which in the 19th Century came to be named “hillbilly.” Although the Northern European roots of hillbilly are routinely acknowledged, even scholars on the culture are far less likely to recognize hillbilly’s other significant place of ancestral origin, West Africa.


Hillbilly music’s biracial parentage should be immediately evident to anyone with any knowledge of the music’s primary instruments, the fiddle and the banjo. The modern fiddle (or violin) may have originated in 16th Century Italy but similar bowed instruments preceded its development by several centuries and the violin made its way to the Americas thanks to English colonists. The banjo, descended from the numerous plucked instruments of West Africa such as the akonting, ngoni, and xalam, was introduced to the Americas by African slaves.


Famous slave owners like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, James K. Polk, Zachary Taylor, and Andrew Johnson routinely required their forced laborers to learn to play violin to entertain their friends and themselves at plantation balls and the White House.



The fiddle and the banjo soon made their way to the mountains of the Upper South where they were played at barn dances and frolics by free men. Although it’s probably a widely held assumption that free blacks all hightailed it to the North, most actually remained in the South. Many free black southerners came from the Caribbean or had lived in France’s La Louisianewhere blacks were free until it was purchased by the US. Even more were freed former slaves who either elected to remain or were unable to leave. In 1860, 84% lived not in the Deep South, however, but in the hilly Upper South (Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia).



Although black musicians were influenced by white minstrels — often adding minstrel compositions to their repertoire — white minstrels of course took most of their inspiration from black culture. Although the earliest known document of the banjo and fiddle being played together is by The Virginia Minstrels in 1840, black banjo players were documented as having played both the banjo and fiddle in the proximity of one another as early as 1774 in southern Maryland. The Virginia Minstrels’ first banjoist, Bill Whitlock, also had learned his instrument from black musicians when he was a member of a traveling circus.


The Armstrong Brothers Band


Although hillbilly music, then, had revolved around the pairing together of the fiddle and banjo for many years, in the recording age record companies segregated music into racially-specific genres to simplify their marketing. Companies marketed race music to the black, record-buying public — which included blues, gospel, and jug band music among other genres. “Hillbilly music” was targeted toward the white public. Black hillbilly musicians, then, quickly learned some other tunes if they hoped to cut music for anyone besides field recorders and ethnomusicologists.


The Ebony Hillbillies (image source: Canberra Jazz Blog)


Take the case of DeFord Bailey. Bailey was the first black musician to play on the Grand Ole Opry, had a grandfather who’d been a champion Tennessee fiddler in the 1880s, and as a child played alongside relatives at the Wilson County Fair with The Bailey Family Band. In 1975 he revealed to an interviewer, “I never heard the blues till I came to Nashville to work. All I heard as a boy back then was what we called black hillbilly music.”


The Carolina Chocolate Drops (image source: MTV)


Beginning in the 1910s, all of hillbilly culture had begun to vanish along the hillbilly highway, an exodus from the mountains in which many hill folk moved to cities in search of work in the industrial sector and led to a good deal of popular entertainment based on regionalist stereotypes. In the 1940s, field recorders documented some black hillbillies, whose music by then often blurred the lines between blues and jazz. More musicians passed on and few of their descendants followed in their ancestors’ musical footsteps — although a few taught white musicians with whom hillbilly music came to be almost exclusively identified, musicians like A. P. Carter (taught by Lesley Riddle), Bill Monroe (taught by Arnold Shultz), and Hank Williams (taught by Rufus “Tee-Tot” Payne).


If you’re interested in hearing black mountain music, here’s a discography which includes examples from all eras of recorded music:

Blind James Campbell and his Nashville Street Band: Blind James Campbell and his Nashville Street Band (1995)

Butch Cage and Willie B. Thomas: Old Time Black Southern String Band Music (2006)

Cannon’s Jug Stompers: The Best of Cannon’s Jug Stompers (2001)

Cats and the Fiddle: Killin’ Jive: 1939–1940, Complete Recordings, Volume 1 (1999)

Carl Martin: Carl Martin / Willie "61" Blackwell - Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order (1994)

Carolina Chocolate Drops: Dona Got a Ramblin’ Mind (2006), Carolina Chocolate Drops & Joe Thompson (2008), Genuine Negro Jig (2010), Heritage (2011), Leaving Eden (2012), 

The Chicago String Band: Chicago String Band (1966)

Deford Bailey: The Legendary DeFord Bailey (1998)

The Ebony Hillbillies: Sabrina's Holiday (2004), I Thought You Knew (2005), and Barefoot And Flying (2011)

Elizabeth Cotton: Freight Train and Other North Carolina Folk Songs and Tunes (1989)

Gus Cannon: Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order: Volume 1 (November 1927 To 20 September 1928) (1990)

Henry ThomasTexas Worried Blues: Complete Recorded Works 1927-1929 (1991)

Howard Armstrong: Louie Bluie (1995)

Joe Thompson: Family Tradition (2009)

Martin, Bogan & Armstrong: Barnyard Dance (1972), Martin Bogan & Armstrong (1974), and That Old Gang Of Mine (1978)

Mississippi Sheiks: Complete Recorded Works Presented In Chronological Order, Vol. 5 (1991), Mississippi Sheiks & Chatman Brothers - Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order: Volume 4 (26 March 1934 To 15 October 1936) (1991), Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order Volume 3: 25 October 1931 To 2 6 March 1934 (1991), Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order Volume 2: 15 December 1930 To 24 October 1931 (1991), Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order Volume 1: 17 February To 12 June 1930 (1991)

Peg Leg Howell & Eddie Anthony: Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order: Volume 1 (8 November 1926 To 13 August 1928) (1993)

Sankofa Strings: Colored Aristocracy

Spirits of Rhythm: The Spirits Of Rhythm 1932-34 (1985), Spirits Of Rhythm 1932-1941 (1996)

Tommie Bradley - James Cole Groups: 1928-32 (Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order (1991)

Various Artist Compilations:

Ain’t Gonna Rain No More: Blues and Pre-Blues from Piedmont North Carolina (2006), Altamont: Black Stringband Music From The Library Of Congress (1989), Before the Blues: The Early American Black Music Scene, vol. 1–3 (1996), Black & White Hillbilly Music: Early Harmonica Recordings from the 1920s & 1930s (1996), Black Banjo Songsters of North Carolina and Virginia (1997), Black Fiddlers (The Remaining Titles Of Andrew & Jim Bxter, Nathan Frazier & Frank Patterson. The Complete Recorded Works Of Cuje Bertram) (1929-c.1970) (1999), The Cornshuckers’s Frolic: Downhome Music and Entertainment from the American Countryside, vol. 1 and 2 (1999), Country Negro Jam Session (1993), Deep River of Song: Black Appalachia: String Bands, Songsters and Hoedowns (1999), From Where I Stand: The Black Experience in Country Music (1998), Old Time Black Southern String Band Music (2006), String Bands: 1926–1929 (1993), and Virginia Traditions: Non-Blues Secular Black Music (1995)



Further Reading:

A Man Apart: The Journal of Nicholas Cresswell, 1774 - 1781, (2009) edited by George M. Curtis III and Harold B. Gill, Jr. 

African Banjo Echoes in Appalachia: A Study of Folk Tradition
(1995), by Cecelia Conway

Blacks in Appalachia (2009), edited by William H. Turner and Edward J. Cabbell

Hidden in the Mix: The African American Presence in Country Music
(2013), edited by Diane Pecknold

Slaves Without Masters: The Free Negro in the Antebellum South
(1974) by Ira Berlin

Sinful Tunes and Spirituals: Black Folk Music to the Civil War
(1977), by Dena Epstein

“Black String Bands: A Few Notes on the Lost Cause”
(1987) and “Rural Black String Band Music” (1990), by Charles K. Wolfe

*****


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5% Nation Hip-Hop Group Brand Nubian

Posted by Billyjam, February 5, 2015 10:55am | Post a Comment
Back in the late eighties / early nineties at the peak of the so-called Afro-centric movement within hip-hop many groups embraced the teachings of the 5% Nation (aka Five Percenters, and the Nation of Gods and Earths) which is the half-century old political organization founded by former Nation of Islam member Clarence "13X" Edward Smith (aka Allah the Father) who was a former student of Malcolm X. Of all these hip-hop groups associated with the Five Percenters the best known was Brand Nubian who consistently espoused the teachings of the Five Percent Nation in their music. These songs included "All For One" which was the title track off the New Rochelle, NY crew's stellar debut album - one that remains a hip-hop classic to this day. However the track caused a good deal of controversy  around the time of its release because the group -- originally made up of emcees Grand Puba, Sadat X, and Lord Jamar along with DJ Alamo --  were outspoken and true to their political beliefs from day one; proudly and unapologetically using their recordings and concerts  as a platform to display both their Islamic faith and the teachings of The 5% Nation.

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Black History Month In The Bay Area

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, January 29, 2015 09:05pm | Post a Comment

 

In honor of Black History Month, the Amoeblog is proud to provide this sampling of Bay Area events that are not to be missed. Watch this space for new additions.

Sunday, 2/1/2015, 1:00pm - 3:00pm
Racism and all that Jazz

Like Traditional Negro Spirituals and the Blues, Jazz evolved in the United States to survive the horrors of racism. Join Renaissance woman Phavia Kujichagulia (Griot, educator, & activist) on this journey into Jazz from Africa to America. She has performed and lectured extensively throughout the continental USA, the Caribbean, and England.
Koret Auditorium
Main Library
100 Larkin St.
San Francisco

Friday, 2/6/2015, 12:00pm -1:00pm
2015 Black History Month Kickoff : A Century of Black Life, History and Culture in San Francisco

Presented by San Francisco African American Historical & Cultural Society (celebrating its 60th anniversary).
City Hall Rotunda
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco

Wednesday, 2/112015, 6:00pm - 7:30pm
African American Oakland: An Historical Overview

In this overview, Oakland History Room librarian Dorothy Lazard will share key and little-known stories of the social, cultural, economic and political contributions of African Americans in Oakland.
Main Library
Oakland History Room
125 14th Street
Oakland

Friday, 2/13/2015, 7:00pm - 10:00pm
A Love Supreme

Join KQED, Impact Hub Oakland, and #1World1Family for a special evening celebrating Black History Month and the 50th anniversary of John Coltrane's album A Love Supreme with a night of film, music, performance, and conversation.
Jazz by the Angela Wellman Quartet
Spoken-word performance by Sonya Renee Taylor
Film Screening: Through a Lens Darkly
Join filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris with Rev. Dereca Blackmon, curator, Ashara Ekundayo and writer, Marvin K. White in conversation on radical love, spiritual practice, and next generation movement building such as the use of technology in the design of #BlackLivesMatter.
Impact Hub Oakland
2323 Broadway
Oakland
RSVP required

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